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Middle East faces shortage of finance, accounting professionals


Robert Half report reveals expat recruitment still preferred strategy for finding skilled staff

February 23, 2014 2:36 by

As the Middle East region is witnessing growth across sectors, companies are looking to hire more finance professionals that can direct strategic development. However, there is a definite lack of professionals with the right mix of skills and local awareness, according to the 2014 Middle East Salary Guide, which was released last month by recruitment consultancy, Robert Half.

The report notes that functional areas where it can be challenging to find skilled workers include financial management and control, accounting, accounts payable and receivable, tax and treasury, and business or financial analysis.

“Approximately 84 per cent of HR directors tell us that it’s a challenge to find skilled and professional-level employees, and the need to hire niche specialists with the requisite skills and experience to deliver growth strategies exacerbates this,” says James Sayer, director for the Middle East region at Robert Half.

He adds: “[Companies] are looking for a mix of solid education, experience and technical skills, supplemented with effective soft skills, such as collaboration and communication capabilities, as well as a strong sense of commerciality. Arabic-speaking professionals, who have worked abroad and, yet, know the local landscape and business culture, are particularly sought after.”

When it comes to hiring practices, most firms still opt for expat recruitment, looking to countries, such as the UK. However, keeping in line with the standards in other markets, employers realise that they no longer need to offer a full-service ‘expat package’, since tax benefits prove sufficient motivation for expatriates.

The average salary range for an assistant accountant is between $35,000 and $66,500 depending on the size of the company, marking a four per cent to five per cent increase from salaries offered in 2013. Meanwhile, financial analysts can earn between $62,500 and $102,500 (approximately 4.2 per cent to 4.5 per cent increase from last year).

Earlier in January, Robert Half reported that 37 per cent of CFOs are expecting hiring increases in the sector, with the key driver being new projects or initiatives (57 per cent), followed by products of service expansion (54 per cent) and domestic business growth (43 per cent).

Other areas of demand include project and programme managers or service delivery management professionals for the IT sector, while learning and development officers, and talent managers are some of the roles that companies are seeking to fill on the HR front.

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